Ducks want Ritchie’s offensive instincts to become ‘more evident to the hockey world’

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Nick Ritchie scored the winning goal Sunday — on a wrist shot from near the side boards that hit off the head of Pekka Rinne and under the cross bar.

For the first time in the playoffs, Rinne allowed four goals in a game. That Ritchie shot counted as the fourth, as Anaheim evened the series, taking advantage of a less than stellar outing from Nashville’s goalie, who has been otherwise spectacular this spring.

“He’s obviously a butterfly goalie that goes down on most shots. If you hit it the right spot, it’s on most goalies these days because they’re all going down,” Ritchie told reporters.

“I think I got lucky and got the puck up there.”

That’s Ritchie’s third goal of these playoffs and second in the last three games. He has seen his ice time increase from just under 12 minutes per game during his first six games of the playoffs, to 15:42 per game in his last five outings. His shot totals have also seen an uptick.

Last summer, Ritchie was among the young players looking to make the leap to full-time NHL work. Taken 10th overall in 2014, the now 21-year-old forward had a decent first full season in the league, with 14 goals and 28 points in 77 games. At 6’2″ and 232 pounds, he brings size on the wing. But the Ducks are also trying to develop his offensive abilities as they search for production in these playoffs and the seasons to come.

“Nick Ritchie is a guy that has scored in a lot of games similar to tonight,” said coach Randy Carlyle.

“And that’s what our project is, is to continue him into a power forward and to have that release and that weapon that he possesses become more evident to the hockey world, because he — we feel that he has offensive instincts and can score.”